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and from the loss of liberty, but that he cannot take them, or cannot appear to take them, because they would turn to the ruin of the Whigs, must you not conclude that such a man considers the interest of his country in subordination to that of a party, which is the character of this rankest faction, and prefers his credit in that party to all the duties of a good citizen.' (Ibid. p. 188.)
Bolingbroke had found out by this time how little the combination, in which he had seen the basis of his · National party, was to be relied upon.
The 'man' here referred to is of course Pulteney, though what the further measures were which he declined to adopt for fear of injuring the Whig party has not fully been explained. One scheme approved of, both by Lord Stair and Lord Bolingbroke, though disapproved of by Chesterfield, and never carried any farther, was that all those counties, cities, and boroughs, whose members had voted against the Convention—the minority was 232- should send up addresses to their representatives, thanking them for their conduct, expressing abhorrence of the Convention, with a good deal more to the same effect, and ending by declaring their readiness to assist their members in restoring the independence of Parliament. Might you not,' says Bolingbroke to Lord Polwarth, return to the House thus backed and thus instructed, and then insist to do no business till a Place Bill was obtained ? ' Chesterfield, however, observed very truly that as to petitions and remonstrances from counties and boroughs, which was once thought of, it would have no effect or a bad one, since the corrupt influence which the Court exercises through the whole nation would procure as many, or even more, counter-petitions and counter-remonstrances, so that though the real sense of the whole nation is unquestionably on our side ; yet, it would then appear to be at least divided, if not much against us.' *
The Opposition could not agree on this or any other common plan of action. Mr. Shippen, the leader of the Jacobite Tories, had never loved the Coalition, and it appears, from a letter of Lord Chesterfield's, that many even of the patriots were playing a double game,
Thus the first open split between the Tories and the malcontent Whigs was in the year 1739, and arose from the Secession. The next was in 1741, when, on the 13th of October, Mr. Sandys brought forward his famous motion for presenting an Address to the King, begging that he would be pleased to dismiss Sir Robert Walpole from his councils. On this occasion Shippen and thirty other Tories, with an equal number of Whigs,* abstained from voting ; but what is far more curious is, that in a letter to Lord Stair a few weeks afterwards, Lord Chesterfield declares that many even of those who supported the motion were glad of their own defeat:
* Stair, ' Annals,' ii. 251.
Those whom you easily guess at, and who have for some time thought that back-stairs negociation was more likely to get 'em into the power for which they long for than honest opposition, rejoice even in their own defeat in this point, thinking that it will, as too surely it does, hurt the coalition of parties which they thought themselves encumbered with, and have been long labouring to destroy.'t
Who is pointed at here may be a little uncertain ; but probably Pulteney and his patriots, whose subsequent conduct, after Walpole's resignation, is quite consistent with this hypothesis. The important points to remember are, first, that there were some leading members of the alliance who refused to concur in the measures recommended by their colleagues, for fear of injuring the Whigs :' and secondly, that some of those who were loudest in favour of Sandys's motion for the removal of Walpole, were secretly glad of its defeat. These two facts show clearly enough that the Whig contingent intended to remain Whig, and had no intention of merging their political identity in any new party that might be formed. In opposing Walpole they held themselves to be opposing one who had departed from true Whig principles, which they themselves had jealously preserved. They had no wish to associate too closely with the Tories, much less to intermingle with them in a National party. They would make use of them as valuable allies for turning out Sir Robert, and when that was done, the legitimate Whigs, to whom the Government belonged of right, would enjoy their own again. A few crumbs might be thrown to their late auxiliaries, but they could not possibly be so presumptuous as to expect anything more. The Patriots, in fact, had no idea of putting an end to party, or existing party divisions. They desired, on the contrary, to perpetuate the system, merely employing for their own purposes what Walpole had employed for his.
When the change took place, and it devolved on Pulteney to form a new administration, it was no longer possible to conceal what Chesterfield and Boling broke had long suspected. The Whigs at once seized upon the loaves and fishes for themselves, and the Tories were left out in the cold. They then discovered
* Smollett says sixty members of the Opposition abstained. + Stair, 'Annals,' ii. 269.
that, though they had formed the great majority of the late Opposition, they had simply been used as cat's-paws; and the Duke of Argyle gave expression to the general sentiment, when he said at a public meeting of the party assembled at the Fountain Tavern :
• The choice of those already preferred having fallen upon the Whigs, is an ill-omen to the Tories. If these are not to be provided for, the happy effects of the Coalition will be destroyed, and the odious distinction of party be revived. It is therefore highly necessary to continue closely united, and to persevere with the same vehemence as ever, till the Tories obtain justice, and the administration is founded upon the broad bottom of both parties.' A Broad-bottom Ministry was the favourite phrase of the day,
see that the Opposition had some reason for clinging to it. The theory that parties ought to have come to an end at the Revolution was, from the political point of view of 1740, perfectly defensible. The Revolution of 1688 had been a joint settlement. William III. had employed Whigs and Tories indiscriminately. Marlborough and Godolphin strove to carry out the same system, and to some extent succeeded. Why should not George 1. have done the same thing-why should he have been a party King any more than either of his predecessors? This was the question which the Tories very naturally asked themselves; and to say that it was impossible to confide in them because they were Jacobites is to argue in a circle. Had they been treated with confidence they would not have been Jacobites. Lord Shelburne is very strong on this point: and though he hated Lord Bolingbroke, quite confirms all that he says on this subject. Besides, the Tories in George I.'s reign were no more Jacobites than they had been in William III.'s. If their supposed sympathies did not prevent the one King from employing them, why should they have prevented the other? For a quarter of a century after the Revolution the Crown had extended its confidence to Whigs and Tories alike: and why after so long an interval was it necessary to make any change? This was a very intelligible position. It did not of course imply that there should not be different groups of men, entertaining different opinions on constitutional and other questions; but only that the Sovereign should be able, when it suited the public interests, to choose Ministers from all these various sections. That is to say, if
were an expert financier, he was not to be excluded from the Exchequer because he was a Whig; or if he was an able diplomatist, he was not to be excluded from the Foreign Office because he was a Tory. This was the open party system as distinguished from the close party system, which Walpole was among the first to establish in this country, and which has virtually subsisted down to the present day. Its inconveniences have long been felt. But if the open system failed to re-establish itself in George II.'s reign, when everything was in its favour, and only a few years had elapsed since it was the recognized practice, how is it likely to succeed when these conditions are reversed, and when, with the prescription of a century and a half in favour of its rival, men have almost forgotten what it means ?
* Stanhope’s ‘History of England,' iii. 111.
We may learn from Cobbett what would have been the ingredients of a popular Tory party in the middle of the last century; and such a one might have had some right perhaps to call itself a National party, as Lord Beaconsfield has often called the Tories of our own time. But that is not what Bolingbroke was thinking of. He meant, he says, the destruction of party; and the conduct of the Government by Ministers selected by the Crown without regard to their political connexions. We may understand by the outcry against Walpole for making himself Chief Minister something of what was contemplated by the advocates of a National party. It was that system of government by departments which George III. for a time actually succeeded in establishing. When each Minister was confined to the business of his own department, it did not matter nearly so much what he thought about politics in general. Such a method, of course, is not the necessary accompaniment of a National party. But, even without it, there are difficulties in the way of reducing the theory to practice, which are likely always to prove insuperable. In the first place, by a National party must be meant a party of such overwhelming strength as to be able to retain in its hands the control over public affairs for a long term of years. Thus the Opposition, if there was one, which is doubtful, would be virtually excluded from office for whole generations at a time. On the other hand, one effect of so comprehensive a connexion must be that great numbers of its own members desirous of taking a part in public life must necessarily be excluded also. Room could not be found for all. And it stands to reason, therefore, that to enable such a system to work in a satisfactory manner as the normal method of Parliamentary government would demand from the political classes a degree of forbearance, magnanimity, and moderation, such as neither history nor experience warrant us in expecting.
Party, as it now exists and has existed under the reigning dynasty, is a system arising naturally out of the claims of the English aristocracy to administer public affairs. In the absence of any wide difference of opinion or great national emergency, such as only occur at long intervals, and did not exist in 1741, it is simply a convenient arrangement for ensuring to each of the two great political connexions in turn a share in the government of the country, and of the good things which accompany it. Divided into two pretty evenly balanced parties, there is, alternately, enough for both, which would not be the case if one party was the whole nation and another only a small clique. In such a case the tendency of the larger party to break itself up into factions, one or more of which should coalesce with the minority and form a united party strong enough to bid for power, would be almost irresistible; so that by degrees the old divisions, if not the old distinctions of principle, would begin to reappear, and bring back again the old system with all its intrigues and insincerity.
No doubt if party could be obliterated altogether under a King like William III., or a Minister like Pitt or Bismarck, the country relying for the preservation of its liberties on the power of the press and public opinion, it might be an improvement on our present method. But we have first to catch our William, our Pitt, or our Bismarck.
A wholly exceptional Sovereign, or a wholly exceptional Minister, or a governing class endowed with a wholly exceptional degree of public virtue-one of these three would be absolutely indispensable to such a system. The Whigs, it is clear, in 1741 were not going to lend themselves to any such visionary scheme. They would not look at it: and Bolingbroke had the mortification of finding his wares returned upon his hands after he had been led to believe that the Whigs were ready to become purchasers.
That they were able to act thus is the best proof that a National party was impossible. It cannot too often be repeated, that the popular feeling against Walpole for the last fifteen years had been at fever-heat, and that it was fed by a constant supply of fuel. If half of what the people believed of him was true, it was enough to have hurled any modern Minister from office. If the whole were true, it was enough to have sent Walpole to the Tower. The various mitigations of his different alleged enormities, such as we have here allowed, went for nothing in the eyes of his political opponents; on the nation at large they fell utterly unheeded; and the Patriots were regarded with reverence by the people as men engaged in a desperate struggle with some fell monster, who was devastating,